Fable Studio has announced two new conversational AI virtual beings – Charlie and Beck – that will be able to hold conversations as if they were real people. Such characters are stepping stones to the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected. The new characters are a blend of storytelling and artificial intelligence, a marriage that Fable is pioneering in the belief that virtual beings will become a huge market as people seek companionship and entertainment during the tough climate of the pandemic. The characters are powered by the Fable Wizard, an AI tool to bring characters to life through visuals, dialogue, voice, and animation.
Researchers from the Army Research Laboratory are working with two universities on high-risk studies in biohybrid robotics. “Organisms outperform engineered robots in so many ways. Why not use biological components to achieve those remarkable capabilities?” Biohybrid robotics integrates living organisms to mechanical systems to improve performance. The team expects to focus on are legged platforms though they are also considering flapping-wing drones. Their research is expected to inform the biohybrid engineering community on how to culture strong muscle tissue rather than extract it from a trained organism.
Researchers were able to develop a self-healing colorless electronic material that can self-repair cracks or damaged functions occurred on the material. The team developed a self-healing colorless polyimide by utilizing linseed oil extracted from seeds of the flax plant. The team fabricated linseed oil-loaded microcapsules; then, created upper-healing layers by mixing the fabricated microcapsules with silicone and coating them on colorless polyimides. The microcapsules break when a mechanical damage occurs, then, the linseed oil leaks out and flows to the damaged area to become hardened, thereby healing the damaged area.
Plants have the same variation in body clocks as that found in humans, according to new research that explores the genes governing circadian rhythms in plants. Their analysis revealed that a single DNA base-pair change in a specific gene – COR28 – was more likely to be found in plants that flowered late and had a longer period length. COR28 is a known coordinator of flowering time, freezing tolerance and the circadian clock; all of which may influence local adaptation. The findings may help farmers to select plants with clocks that are best suited to their location, helping to boost yield and even the ability to withstand climate change.
Elon Musk inquired about converting “large transactions” of Tesla’s balance sheet into Bitcoin in a Twitter exchange with Michael Saylor, a prominent booster of the digital currency. In a series of tweets, Saylor, chief executive officer of Microstrategy Inc. encouraged the billionaire to shift U.S. dollars from the electric-car maker to Bitcoin and “do your shareholders a $100 billion favor.” The exchange came after Musk posted a suggestive image indicating that he’s tempted by Bitcoin, which has more than tripled in value this year. “Other firms on the S&P 500 would follow your lead & in time it would grow to become a $1 trillion favor.”
Saudi Aramco Development Co, a subsidiary of Aramco, has teamed up with Google Cloud to offer cloud services to customers in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is being added to the global network of Google Cloud Platform regions, as part of a strategic alliance agreement. Google Cloud will establish and operate a new cloud region in Saudi Arabia, while a new company will be formed after required regulatory clearances to supply cloud solutions and services to customers. The collaboration taps into rapidly expanding demand for cloud services in Saudi Arabia, a market that is projected to be worth up to $10 billion by 2030, Aramco said.
National Library finds 120-year-old chocolates commissioned by Queen Victoria and owned by Banjo Paterson
Conservators at the National Library of Australia have unearthed one of the world’s oldest boxes of chocolates, dating back 120 years to the time of the Boer War. The souvenir chocolate tin was discovered at the bottom of a box of personal papers from the estate of Australian bush poet Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson. Remarkably, the chocolates were not only unmolested after more than a century, but still looked — almost — good enough to eat. The chocolate bar, marked into six fingers, still had remnants of old straw packing and silver foil wrapping.
A nine-year-old boy has made nearly $30m in a year from “unboxing” and reviewing toys and games on YouTube to hold the title of highest-paid YouTuber for the third year running. Ryan Kaji, from Texas, made $29.5m from his YouTube channel Ryan’s World, as well as a further estimated $200m from Ryan’s World branded toys and clothing, including Marks & Spencer pyjamas. Kaji’s most popular video, Huge Eggs Surprise Toys Challenge, has more than 2bn views, making it one of the 60 most-viewed videos ever on YouTube.